Intro: How to Make Super-Cool Frozen Party Cocktails With Liquid Nitrogen
Use liquid nitrogen to make awesome frozen party drinks. Liquid nitrogen is cold enough to freeze alcohol, allowing really fun frozen-slushy-like cocktails.
Step 1: Liquid Nitrogen Can Freeze Alcohol
Ethanol, the alcohol in cocktails, freezes at -114 C. High-quality freezers are typically set at -18 C, so putting a drink in the freezer or adding water-ice will not freeze the alcohol. Even dry ice, at -79 C will still leave the alcohol a liquid. So, if you really want to freeze the alcohol solid, liquid nitrogen is the best choice. Liquid nitrogen (LN2) boils at -196 C (77 K), and when thoroughly mixed into a drink, will freeze the drink, and boil away leaving nothing behind but frozen yumminess.
Geek note: Most drinks are not 200 proof - so the water-alcohol mixtures freeze at a higher temperature than pure alcohol. Still, it's pretty darn cold.
Step 2: Liquid Nitrogen Safety
Liquid Nitrogen is cold and can cause frostbite or "burns." To handle LN2 safely you need safety glasses, insulated gloves, dewars to safely hold the liquid, and, the best absolute best thing, someone with experience handling LN2.
Since we're freezing alcohol to -114 C, it's important to realize the frozen cocktail itself can be temperature-wise dangerous. At our party, we froze the cocktails, and carefully warned anyone who wanted to try the cocktail-ice directly. In most of the drinks, we also added liquid to some of the cocktail-ice to prevent people from coming into direct contact with the super-cold solids. And in the ones where we didn't, it was probably a bad idea.
I've always gotten my LN2 from a university, or by masquerading as a "remote outpost" of a university to that university's supplier. Renting the dewars isn't too expensive, and the cost of the LN2 itself is less then milk per gallon.
Step 3: Materials, Tools, and Setup
The trick to good texture is good stirring.
You can use a wooden spoon and a bowl with a handle, but it's a lot of work, the bowl gets very cold, and the LN2 and the mix may splash onto your hands.
Better to lock the bowl to the table and use a power stirrer.
We use the bowl from my 4.5 quart KItchenAid mixer, with a new "lock plate".
(I got mine online at Goodmans.net )
The stirring bit is a spackle mud stirrer (these are heavier duty than the paint stirrers available at my hardware store) chucked into my cordless drill.
Note that this setup put little dings into the mixer bowl, which are unsightly and, my wife assures me, will require the acquisition of a new bowl for the mixer.
Step 4: Mix It Up!
Mix it up. Here's the two-person mixing technique: Put the drink ingredients in the bowl. Go a little light on the booze and a little heavy on the mixer, as the extreme cold will make the drink less sweet than it would otherwise be. (Don't worry, you'll adjust the ratios later). Then LN2 pourer ... pours LN2 into the bowl while the stirrer ... stirs the mix. You won't be able to see what is happening, so the pourer pours slowly and stops every so often to allow the stirrer to see into the bowl.
Step 5: Frozen Mimosa
Traditionally equal parts OJ and champagne, but
the low temp suppress the flavor, so we went about 2 parts OJ to 1 champagne.
Put the frozen mix into a glass, add a splash of liquid champagne and a maraschino cherry!
Step 6: Frozen Orange Juice and Frozen Apple Juice
For kids, make orange juice or apple juice slush. Add a good bit of unfrozen juice afterwards so it is more like a slushie.
Step 7: Frozen Cosmos
Mix 2 parts lemon vodka to one part triple sec combined with one part cranberry and the juice of half a lime. A splash of cranberry afterwards serves to convert the ice to more of a slushie and avoids oral liquid nitrogen burns -- never fun.
Step 8: Frozen Vodka and Gin Martinis
Frozen Martinis - we did the Vodka ones first. Don't be afraid of the Vermouth. I usually, as per Winston Churchill, bow in the general direction of France and add some more Gin, but for this a goodly amount of vermouth does add some flavor. A splash of either afterwards avoids the pain of freeze-burned tongue.
Step 9: Frozen Bloody Mary
Garnish with appropriately cut-up celery; extra vodka serves as a nice ice-solvent.